Different and same (subtitle from “Lie down”)
Carptree from Sweden is the duo Niclas Flinck (lead vocals) and Carl Westhol (keyboards). On the album “Superhero” they are accompanied by the No Future Orchestra, consisting of Ulf Edelönn on guitars and bass, Jeja Percovic and Jan Hellma on drums, Stefan Fandén on bass and Kjell Barnhage on snaredrum. Öivin Tronstad takes care of the backing vocals and Franziska Edvinsson signs for the narration on track 9, “Malfunction” (6:20).
On this album they provide the listener with some in essence simple pop/rock
songs which they manage to bring in such a way, that they turn out to
be real jewels.
First of all there is the great intimate voice of Niclas, full of expression and emotion. Then there are the keyboards of Carl: no wizardry like Wakeman or Emerson, but sedate and flowing piano melodies; soft, sometimes a little bombastic, but always tasteful and intriguing orchestral keyboards (or mellotron?) and last but not least the synthesizer(s) that provide detailed decoration or even some short but superb solos, like in "Host vs. Craft" (5:26). Of course I should not forget the occasional but effective drumming, sometimes a sole snaredrum, and guitar and bass play. Most guitar parts are simple, for instance the chords in the aforementioned "Host vs. Craft", but, as in fact all instrumental contributions, very effective in terms of the details they provide and the way they fit in the overall composition and sound. At times, for instance in "Lie Down" (4:12) the bass sounds like Chris Squire.
The real power of “Superhero” in my opinion lies in the very tasteful arrangements of the songs. The well considered arrangements create such a variation of atmospheres and a rich spectrum of instrumental and vocal details, that every song is very gripping.
This is not progressive rock as usual. Instead of instrumental outbursts with guitar and keyboard solos, Carptree brings emotional, atmospheric, subtle, colorful and intriguing songs full of details, that demand for conscious listening. Hard to compare with anything else within the progressive genre, because it definitely is something else. Nevertheless I position this album among other great progressive works.